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Recovery: The Foundation of Fitness

Posted by Matt Hyder on
Elite Athletes and Recovery

In the world of elite sports, exercise recovery tools and massage have become ubiquitous, considered critical for gaining a competitive advantage. By augmenting their recovery routines, elite athletes are able to increase the returns on their workouts, feel fresher for competition, prevent injury, and more quickly recover from injury when it does happen. Elite athletes pay just as much attention to their recovery regimen as their workouts because fitness and success is not just about hard work but smart recovery. Hard work provides stimulus for improvement but the true gains are a function of recuperation: how well the body heals, rebuilds, adapts, and repairs itself. It is crucial for athletes to have knowledge about their bodies and to have access to proper tools in order to optimize their work and achieve superior conditioning.

The video below shows Michael Phelps and his training for London 2012. The whole video is a good, but the minute segment I've isolated talks about his recovery routine, including his compression suit, massage, icing, and rest.  

The full length video is broken into 3 segments. The first part (0:00 - 3:30) discusses some of his workouts. The second part (3:30 - 6:00) is dedicated to recovery. The last portion discusses his diet. It is telling that more time is actually allotted to discussing his recovery and nutrition than his workouts.

It is clear that Phelps, his trainers, and his coach attribute his success as much to his preparation and recovery as they do his athletic talent and hard work. Rest and recovery, including icing, is the foundation on which he can build "the house" of swimming success, medals, and fast times. His trainer says that with proper recovery, "those off days tend to go away", and Phelps follows, "it helps me feel recovered and refreshed for the next day".

The mystery of the "practice team all-star"

Many of us have met the "practice team all-star", that athlete who goes and crushes every workout, regardless of purpose, as hard as they can, only to under-perform when it is actually time to compete. They are left confused as to why they can't improve or break through a certain barrier with all their drive and dedication. I should know, I was that athlete.

Truth be told, it takes a different, more mature, type of drive and dedication to perform each workout the way it is meant to be performed, a humility to listen to your coach, and discipline to pay attention to the small things, like stretching, recovery nutrition and rest. You can have the grandest blueprint for a house and all the materials to build it, but unless you build a firm foundation in a solid place, that house will crumble.

The solution for these athletes is to have confidence and faith in themselves, patience, and maturity. They will start having success when they start giving their recovery and rest as much attention as their workouts.

Recover like a pro

This is because fitness is a two part process, catabolic (tearing down/hard work) and anabolic (building up/recovery). 

Each one feeds off the other to build you towards your fitness goals. To neglect either hard work or smart recovery will seriously undermine your ability to achieve those goals. So work out like Michael Phelps, consistently working hard but with a purpose, paying attention to rest/sleep, nutrition, stretching, massage, and supplemental exercises. Do that, and you might be surprised at what you can accomplish, one step at a time!

That is why it is special working for Recoup Fitness and developing the Stinger as an icing and massage tool. We get to help you build a strong foundation for your fitness, just like the pros, to help you achieve your best self!

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